Posted in My Planning, Reviews, Students

FREE Student Planner! // How I Plan

 

Hello everyone!

I’m really excited to upload this post as I will be sharing a free tool every student needs to try. Planning in high school and college is very different, as you have fewer classes in college,  fewer assignments in general, but more long term deadlines to remember. I couldn’t really find  paper planner that suited my needs my first semester of freshman year. I can’t totally remember how I stumbled across this site, but it was likely through a youtube video or google search. Nonetheless, I’ve been using it religiously for 3 semesters now, and it is truly the best option available for students.

I’m talking about mystudylife.com. It is totally free to use; you’ll just need an email address to make an account. There’s an iOS app free to download, which is really great as being able to access a planner on the bus or in the car is super important to me. This website has replaced my paper planning for school. One major disadvantage to traditional paper planners is it’s hard to make changes to deadlines or keep track of progress, but going digital resolves that. It is also so easy to visually separate your classes and add tasks without it being super cluttered. I’ll break down the features that I enjoy using the most in the respective sections.

Dashboard

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First thing you’ll see when you open the site is your dashboard. I don’t personally use this that often, but it really is a nice visual for what’s coming up. I’m sure you could tell, but I put in fake tasks and exams, as I am still on break and don’t know what’s coming up. On the left it shows what classes I have that day including times. As you can see, the classes are color coded based on colors you select, and that color follows through the whole planner. The “classes” disk gives a visual of time distribution of each class that day. Additionally, it will remind you of any exams.

Below that is the “Tomorrow” section which gives a brief visual of what classes you’ll have and the time distribution. It will also show what tasks are due the next day in the “tasks due” disk. These are color coded a little differently, as red indicates an overdue task and orange is for an upcoming task. To the right of that page is a more detailed list of the tasks coming up including a short description, due date, percent completion, and corresponding course. On the far right is a list of exams and tasks coming up the following week. I will go more in depth with the tasks in the “tasks” section. As you can see, the upcoming dates are highlighted orange. Anything overdue will appear red.

I’ve also included a screenshot below of what this page looks like on my iPhone.

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Calendar

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Next we have a more detailed class schedule. You can view a weekly or a monthly layout as I’ve shown below. I’ve blacked out building names and professors, but that is where those would go. This calendar will show everything, including exams. Clicking on an individual day will open a sidebar showing what classes you have that day as well as tasks that are due. Because I am using a previous semester, you can see that all the tests are slightly dimmed and crossed out indicating 100% completion. The colors also appear desaturated indicating that day already occurred. The weekly view is nice to print out and stick to the inside of a planner or notebook for reference. It’s also great to have on your phone for the first week of school, as it will give you buildings and room numbers.

Tasks

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This here is the meat of the planner, and where I spend most of my time. This page is always open in my browser for reference.

Adding a new task is simple, just hit one of the big green buttons. A small window, shown below, will pop up and ask you to select the subject and due date. Three types are available: assignments, tasks, and revisions. There is a box to add notes, but I rarely use that.

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Task progress is monitored through the completion bar that appears when you click on a task. Simply slide the bar along to indicate progress. Once the task has reached 100% it will be crossed out and a green checkmark will appear. The completed task will disappear from your current task workflow once the due date is passed. The progress tool is really cool because the planner will reprioritize your tasks to put tasks that have not been started on top. Definitely play around with the features to see what works for you. I personally only use the task bar for long term, multi step assignments. I have also never used the revision or reminder options, but I imagine only the label changes and not the features. Screen Shot 2019-01-17 at 11.40.14 PM.png

I found it super helpful to enter all my tasks from the syllabus on the first day of school, and then add more as they came in. This ensured I didn’t miss a day. Editing the dates on these is super easy too, which came in handy when classes fell behind schedule.

Exams

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This page is very similar to the task page, minus the task bar. Create new exams by selecting a subject, giving it a name, and setting the time and duration. You can also specify room and set if applicable. Exams will appear in your schedule. I never really used this feature until my third semester, mostly because I had exams on my large paper calendar. However, I found it really nice to see each exam in my schedule as a block ahead of time. Once again, I super recommend entering all exams and finals as soon as you get your syllabus. The MyStudyLife app will send a push notification with exam info 30 minutes before it occurs.

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Schedule

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This is where you will add classes and format the color code. Classes are organized by academic years and terms. You can add an overarching academic year and specify dates. Classes added to that academic year will only appear in your calendar and task list during those specified dates. Similarly, you can make specific terms, for example one for each semester, to further specify class duration. Adding classes is super easy. Just give it a title, time, and a color. You can go into more detail by adding locations, frequencies, instructors, and a shorter duration if the class doesn’t span the whole semester. Adding holidays will block out days in your calendar where no classes are shown. If you try to add a task or exam on a holiday it will ask you to ensure this was intentional. Again, I’m not super familiar with this page, as I only use it for the beginning of the semester. However, the customizability is what makes this site so amazing and helpful for students. I always color code my classes to match my notebooks for class and my color code in my bullet journal. This is another page where playing around with the settings will be useful.

Finally there is a search tab, but I rarely utilize it. However I imagine it could be useful if you need to see when a past assignment was turned in or to find notes on an assignment.

Overall

As you can tell, I am really excited about this website. I have recommended it to all my friends. It’s just so easy to use and the customizability helps you take control of your tasks and schedules. I have tried so many academic paper planners and apps, and this is by far the best. Other school apps are usually too complicated, and it takes way too long to add a task  because of how much information they ask. They also tend to look more cluttered as each task displays too much information than what is needed for an at-a-glance view. The most important aspect for me is the continuity between the app and the desktop site. I always have this site open on my laptop, and being able to match it to my phone without taking screenshots is great. Paper planners are bulky and don’t allow for the same level of flexibility and customization. This has truly allowed me to make a system that works for me.

What they can improve:

  • I’m noticing on mobile that it is displaying my schedule for the whole academic year rather than a single semester. I will have to play around with this
  • There is a glitch sometimes when selecting multiple tasks. Not a huge deal, just refresh the page, but it’s annoying
  • The selection box on the tasks is really tiny. So often I’ll click outside of it and have to restart
  • A cool feature would be one where you can set tasks without a due date and have them on your dash. Sometimes you have things that need to be done that don’t have a concrete deadline like reviewing notes or reading before an exam

Again, highly recommend for college students! I never used this in high school, but I imagine it would function similarly.

This is totally not sponsored at all, just sharing a resource I’ve enjoyed 🙂 If you have any questions about the site, I am happy to try and answer! Let me know if you’ve tried this planner or are looking to try it before the semester starts.

Thanks for joining in, and I hope to see you again soon!

 

 

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